Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Steven Vincent Murdered

This past Sunday, Steven Vincent, a freelance journalist and blogger working in Basra, wrote an Op-Ed article in the New York times called Switched Off in Basra. In his article, Steven Vincent complained about how the majority of Iraqi police officers in Basra were affiliated with Shia religious parties, that hundreds of politically-motivated assassinations had been carried out by police officers, and that people in Basra were afraid to call the police to report crime out of fear. He even wrote about a white police "death car" that was used to shuttle off-duty officers to their next nefarious assignment.

Sure enough, on Tuseday night, Steven Vincent was seen being pushed into a white pickup truck with the word "police" written on the side of it, and a few hours later was found shot dead at the side of the road, with his Iraqi interpreter alive but in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the chest.

This timing does not sound like much of a coincidence to me.

Basra is starting to sound more and more like the many places in the world where the police are so corrupt that they become worse than useless, they become a criminal enterprise paid for by tax dollars. If this trend is allowed to continue, I would not be surprised if we start seeing communities forming neighborhood street gangs to protect the communities' interests, and citizens resorting to lynch mobs and vigilante justice to protect themselves against criminals, just like they do in some other parts of the world. I just hope Basra and other parts of Iraq are able to pull away from that anarchical abyss before they fall in head-first.